tv [untitled] April 30, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT
moment and introduce the concept that for most citizens again -- and i am one -- it's very difficult to not throw everyone into the same pool of, geez, we live in a noisy city. there are muni buses and trans buses and golden gate buses. they don't care whose buses or what agency they belong to, it's just noise to them. so some of our testing that we did found that muni buses, when they open the door to announce streets, were 10 times louder than our amplification systems. so i would invite muni to this summit. basically anybody that -- rental car companies should come. there's been suggestions to eliminate large buses in certain neighborhoods, and i just want to talk about how disastrous that could be to a city that focuses on tourism. if you put on average 40 to 50 persons on a bus and then
suggest that we don't want large buses in our neighborhood, but rather limit the tour bus sizes to eight or less, and you know there's certain neighborhoods around the city where there's signs posted, you basically take one bus and suddenly introduce six to eight tour advance, and then turn around and complain about traffic problems. so from strictly a movement of people standpoint, buses are the most effective way to do that. if you eliminate advance all together and put people in advance, you've gone from one 45-passenger bus to 20 cars. so we don't think that's the solution and that's why, again, i, for the third time -- and i'm sorry if i repeat myself -- really call for a summit in which we address this to a citywide basis. how is this zee going to address tourism? we as diplomats and emissaries of our city have an obligation to fulfill the needs and zirlse of our guests from around the world. 16.5 million visitors last
year. anticipated 18 million this year with america's cup. we have an obligation to show them the city and do it in a respectful way. it's very much the mission of san francisco tour operators association to work with the citizens, to not jam our industry down your throat, but also to recognize that we do serve an important function in our city. i also need to say for the record that there are many members of our association who have been in the transportation industry for over 25 years, and to everyone's recollection this is the first time that we, as a sight-seeing organization, have actually come together. so i'm very proud of the progress that we've made. perhaps jerry robbins can speak a little bit later, if there's anyone in the police department that can speak. we've had problems in union square in the past. in the last nine months it's a different picture there, with regard to the cooperation of the white zone, the use of ticket vendors, how long we use the white zone. it used to be that there was a
permanent amount of time there. now it's in the active load are or unloading, it's get them in, get them out. so we've demonstrated, i think, to a number of different community districts that we can and continue to operate cooperatively as an association. we have 18 current members, which represent over 90% of the bus companies in san francisco. and i want to just, if i may, supervisor olague, speak to the alamo square issue for just a moment. >> i know we're limiting the presentations from five to seven minutes. so if you can sort of -- >> i will summarize my remarks, thank you. m.t.a. did a study where they noticed the number of buses coming through alamo square and we found that roughly 20% of them were commute buses. another 20% were out-of-town buses, and 60% represented the
association members. and we proactively, without ever having met with the association, determined that we would have alamo square be a silent zone, that is to say there would be no amplification whatsoever around the four blocks of alamo square. we did that proactively as an olive branch. we also completely understand the need to not have buses stop on hayes street, to not have buses unload. so we have stopped unloading our buses. we do have a concern, however, for the safety of our passengers. san francisco travel has, as part of their traveling display around the world, a 10-foot poster of alamo square. so we invite people to san francisco and tell them this is a great neighborhood. naturally understandably for all of you in this room you're going to want to take a picture of the six sisters. how do we do that without jeb dyesing the safety of the passengers when -- jeopardizing the safety of the passengers when they stand up and impact the flow of traffic on hayes
street. so we talked about the establishment of two white zones so that we can accomplish two things at once. we pull in for one to two minutes only. no unloading. take the pictures and move right out. we don't block driveways or impede traffic. we have changed the hours that we are in the neighborhood. well not arrive any before 9:00. we will not be in the neighborhood after 6:00. and we are working diligently within our organization to do outreach to the out-of-town buses. ryan's example tres, siegel and others have been contacted in the last week to explain the situation, so we're acting as only budsmen for the city, for tour companies that may not know. we've been in touch with google andrea who as a number of those -- and yahoo. also, i want to say that we want to work closely with the neighborhood and the board of supervisors and all the other departments in the city that
are impacted by this. and i would ask this body to take these concerns into account and to recommend and support a citywide summit to address them. thank you for holding today's meeting. >> thank you. >> supervisor olague, can i just ask mr. oppenheim a question? >> of course. >> i'm at your website for the urban safari. you make it seem so fun and not just a typical tour. i see that some of the vehicles are big, like zebra-type cages, open to the air. >> yes, sir. >> for your company. but for the total s.f. tour operators association, i'm just curious how many enclosed tour buses there are and how many unenclosed tour buses. because some of the main concerns, at least from my resident, have been the unenclosed tour buses that are open to the air that you can hear as they drive by, not so much the enclosed ones. and you made the reference to the mune yi buses, which i don't think -- muni buses,
which i don't think are open to the air at all. >> supervisor, of course the concerns are much more addressed with the open. and i would say on the lift of 18 companies here, -- list of 18 companies here, a little less than half have open-sided buses and both operate within the city. i'd be happy to get specific numbers and get back to you. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> at this time we'll hear from the alamo square neighborhood association board members, aaron morris and bess hernandez. >> i actually want to make a comment following up on the presentation that was just made by the industry. >> sure. >> first of all, i certainly -- and i think we all appreciate the importance of tourism in our local economy. i think what this hearing is about, though, is the fact that when you bring in 16 million people a year, it is unfortunately only impacting not the entire city, but a
number of neighborhoods that are bearing a disproportionate brunt of dealing with that. that's why supervisor olague and i wanted to team up and hold this hearing. so what i do hope the travel industry and the tour operators understand is what can we do together to make sure that tourism can peacefully co-exist with our residential neighborhoods. secondly i want to mention that i appreciate the fact that there is now an association of tour bus operators. i think one of the problems that we've seen, though, is that the association represents local tour bus operators, and we still have dozens and dozens of buses coming in less frequently that are not part of your association that don't understand the local rules and are creating issues for our neighborhoods. i had heard that in alamo square, for example, that the local tour bus folks had imposed a silence zone. but i could tell from the nodding or the lack of nodding in the room, i don't think every alamo resident believes that there is -- we can see it right now -- believes that there is this quiet zone that
has been well enforced. and one thing i would ask the industry folks to think about is how you can get out the word and really regulate that across all the tour bus operators that come into our neighborhoods. the third thing i want to say is i know my initial proposal was initially derided by the industry as plastic headsets with wires. and that is not at all what i was proposing. i want to make it very clear. in an era of wireless technologies, we can have headsets that don't have wires. and in an era of re-usable technologies, we can also have re-usable headsets. so i want to make it clear with technologies, this is a viable solution that exists in other cities and one that i am still willing to consider. that being said, i do want to see perhaps for the next year or so how this works, and if supervisor olague and supervisor mar, all of us who are here don't hear continued complaints from our neighborhoods, i don't think we'd have any reason to move
forward. but obviously this is a work in progress. the last thing i want to say is i appreciate the invitation for a summit, and i think that would be a good thing. but the one thing i do hope is that we need to move forward in getting some of these solutions done, and i don't want the planning of a summit to otherwise delay the implementation of policies that can provide some more immediate relief to our neighborhoods. >> thank you. good afternoon, supervisors. my name is gus hernandez and i'm the vice president ped -- of the association. i brought some photographs. i was wondering if i could use the overhead projector. anyway, the increase of tour buses in our neighborhood has
happened relatively recently. we have heard critics say, what do you expect you live next to one of the most photographed views in san francisco. but actually, tour bus activity was relatively minor and tolerable until about four or five years ago. i still don't have the overhead. i just wanted to show some photographs of the impact on our neighborhood. in 2010 the alamo square board started hearing more complaints about tour buses in respect to traffic, noise, pedestrians, bicycle safety. and i want to stress the public safety issues, because it's very real in our neighborhood. we live on a hill. it's tricky enough driving in your vehicle, trying to maneuver around the tour buses. but anyway, we followed supervisor david chu's legislation last year to restrict tour buses in the north ridge neighborhood. that was implemented in march of last year.
and in june, alamo square board met with the sfmta, and in october the m.t.a. did collective data for their draft alamo square tour bus study, which was presented to us in december, 2011. so i'm just going to talk about the study here. 38 different tour bus companies were observed at alamo square. the findings were that alamo square received one tour bus every three minutes in october, which is not the height of the tourist season. m.t.a. observed 85 buses over 255 minutes. 40 were unenchoiced. 23 were fully enclosed. 20 were small enclosed buses and advance and two were employee shuttle buses. the primary impact of having so many tour buses in our neighborhood is that it congests our streets. there is no dedicated loading zone for tour buses at alamo square. so 22 of the 85 buses stopped
in a muni bus zone. this prevents muni bus fress loading and unloading at the curb, which, in turn, causes traffic delays. the study offers several solutions, noting that the city and county of san francisco cannot regulate the number of tour buses, which is our primary concern. the solutions offered by the m.t.a. include giving up muni bus zones to the tour buses, so they can have a dedicated loading zone. however, this solution does not address the main issue, which is the number of tour buses that run through the neighborhood, and there's nothing that guarantees that they won't continue to double park once they have these zones. the m.t.a. also proposes restriction of commercial vehicles with nine or more seats from some or all alamo square area streets. and i'm just going to flip through some photographs here of -- these were all taken within the last month, i believe. it's not just one street, it's all around the square at every
intersection. and it's very dangerous. so after sharing the draft study with our neighbors and stakeholders, the board voted unanimously to support the solution proposed by the m.t.a. to restrict tour buses in the alamo square historic district of the we asked the m.t.a. to exclude employee shuttle buses, since we value the benefit of giving our neighbors modes of transportation to and from work. and one more thing -- the study identifies major arterials around alamo square, south street and oak street. other commercial districts are also relatively close, like the lower hayes valley and lower fill more. we want to promote the use of major arterials that can support the frequency and size of the tour buses, while drawing visitors to our commercial districts. we are a transit-first city and we should also be supporting the muni bus system which surrounds our park. we should be encouraging visitors to use our public
transit to reach destinations like alamo square. the real economic benefit from tourism comes from interaction between visitors and local businesses and neighborhoods. the tour bus companies are instead usurping our residential streets to meet the ends of our business model. thank you. >> thank you. i'd like to open it up for public comment at this time. dean, followed by mali, jesus perez. >> and we'd like to -- let's limit the testimony to two minutes per person. there's a buzzer that goes off with 30 seconds to go. please try to keep comments brief, if you can, folks. >> mr. chairman, this is for all three items, both on the two pieces of legislation i'm sponsoring as well as the other hearing. >> ok. >> good afternoon. my name is deanne.
i am a current intern for the community action network. i am concerned about the fact that tour buses are able to get around local regulation, because they sometimes cross the golden gate bridge. thus making them state regulated. these are large vehicles that stepped to load or unload wherever they find a convenient spot for themselves to double park. they block our bus stops, they park in our crosswalks, and they tend to try and beat the red lights. we want to see more private companies sharing vehicles and promoting bicycles so that the four out of five new companies in the market don't all have their very own private shuttles. we also wants them to reduce the number of pick-up locations, especially in our residential neighborhoods. our public muni buses should be fine to use for commuting, and we should encourage the use of public transit and continue to invest in it. we want to see private
companies that continue to use our bus stop areas as loading and unloading spots pay an investment fee that would go into improving maintenance and operations for our muni buses. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> good afternoon, my name isi m concerned about the fact that many shuttles use the tenderloin neighborhoods as the commissioners route, and then -- to this neighborhood has a high sr. and youth population. we have had number of pedestrian deaths in the crosswalks. because they either do the crosswalk, at the top of the
hill like tenderloin, white -- while a pedestrian is there. and they can get so high off the ground that they can see people in crosswalks. we have the public and private -- with the traffic regulation. >> good afternoon. i am jesus perez. i live in the soma area. i want to let you know i have seen a lot of tourist busses coming around. they go a different way. thank you. >> i have more speaker cards. daniel -- and ramon smith. and then owen o'donnell.
in that order. >> the next speaker could come up? please come up to the mike. >> if everyone could line up, that would help us. we have a hearing on several other items. >> good afternoon, and thank you. i am ramon smith. i have always had concerns about the lack of regulations. in the south market area, as stated by many speakers before me, we have a large population of seniors and disabled.
considering we do have a number of buses coming through there. some kind of common ground to which we can entertain the tourists who come to the city and maintain a steady and sustainable environment in which our people can live then. the carbon emissions and noise -- have had an adverse effect on the quality of life. i encourage you to move forward. and the preschool all delivery speed to get in place those directives and guidelines and regulations that you can to bring about positive change in the neighborhood. >> i am damian, who represents sightseeing and the tour operators association. i wanted to talk about the ambient sound legislation, and i
know that there is a two week wait. what we are asking for is i was at the testing and participated on october 11. we found that the 50 feet ambient noise level only occurred in when the bus was idling. and so we had come up with the ambient sounds sensor, which brings the system and the noise, depending on where you are. this would actually bring it down. what i am concerned about is a legislation that is being proposed, this is not specific
and we had discussed this. i know that mr. waters had sent an e-mail or letter to you as well. i would like to have the opportunity within this time, so that we can discuss this. to have him involved in this conversation. we were the ones who volunteered to have this testing done. and of sound systems that were presented. the problem we have is that there is no -- in the legislation it is open to how this is supposed to be, -- >> founded. thank you. >> if i could just make a comment, i am happy to learn more. this discussion has been
circulated for a number of months. this is the first time i heard there were additional concerns. i would be happy to talk to you further about this. >> thank you. >> if the speakers could line up -- >> lisa donner, callie edwards, erin morse, katrina jenkowski. >> i am olen o'donnell, on scott street at the west end of alamo square park. this is a residential block, exclusively single-family dwellings. my wife and i are retired so we are home during the day and get the benefit of watching a continuous parade of 40-60-foot buses, some of which have very
loud speakers through the neighborhood, from morning until night. my point is that my street, scott street, is a relatively narrow, a typical residential street, and one block west -- is four lanes and a commercial street. but the buses turned often from fulton and hayes on to cut -- scott street. and win a 60-foot bus goes into a narrow, residential street it will take up both lanes, until it finally manages to get straight. this has been a disaster. i would like the tour buses absolutely and unequivocally prohibited from residential streets such as scott street. and i also want to point out
that in the '60s, i was a tour guide in washington d.c. and we did not go to residential neighborhoods. >> good afternoon. i am gillian. i live on mcallister streets which is one block away from alamo square. this block has two lanes, and also has the no. 5 bus running every six minutes. so this street is also feeling the impact of the large tour buses. on this block, many residents who have lived here for 20-50 years, they did not anticipate the large tour buses with mostly diesel fumes, loudspeakers, very ugly billboards, and they moved into the area because this was a
relatively quiet neighborhood. all of the residence i have spoken to on my block, the long- term residence and the newer people are unanimously in favor of the tour bus issue being seriously addressed. we have studied the map of san francisco which shows clearly all of the historic, residential neighborhoods where the tour buses have been banned. >> good afternoon, supervisors. thank you for calling this meeting. i am of the alamo square neighborhood association. what we would like to do is not stop the visitors from coming to the fine city because we all love san francisco and that is why we live here. we want to encourage the tour
buses to go to fillmore street, the main commercial districts. that way people can get off and walk to the park and take photos, and on the way they can go shopping and support local merchants, who could use the business. it would be a wonderful way to get to know san francisco, by checking out all of the cool shops. going over to fill more and getting some of the best barbecue you can possibly get. we need for the mass transit authority to make it easier for people to get their cards. my in-laws are from manhattan, and they are people who know how to ride the subway. but they have a difficult time getting a clipper card. even then, it was not clear to them how to ride the bus. if we are a transit-first city we need to make it easier for
individuals from out of town and people who are not like my in- laws, people from the suburbs to learn how to ride so they can see our fabulous city. this comes down to safety. we have massive tour buses that are letting people across the street at the top of the hill. and then the cars try to pass the buses while they are headed up the hill. we do not want this to turn into a fatality issue. we want people to come to our neighborhood. we want people to walk to the parks. thank you. >> i am kelly edwards and i live at the northwest corner of the alamo square. i am the caretaker of the historical landmark, westfield
home. i live at the crest of three hills. you talk about how you listed the system and everything like that, that is b.s. you have not extended the olive branch. you are lying. this morning, you yelled at a guy for talking too loud. it is not only dangerous. there is a cement factory, cement trucks coming up the street. to supply albertson's. it is three times as high as you did it. these engines blow up. not to mention, when i'm trying to take a nap, watching the giants game. got a full belly. just closing my eyes.